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ASX still in the black but off highs
ASX still in the black but off highs

Australian stocks were still in the black mid-session but off their earlier highs.

At 9.15am, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 17.1 points, or 0.39 per cent, at 4378.5 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index had risen 17.1 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 4399.7 points.

On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was 12 points higher at 4391 points, with 14,006 contracts traded.

Bell Potter senior adviser Stuart Smith said the rises on the London Metals Exchange was a big contributor to the gains on the local market, particularly among resources-linked stocks.

Australian stocks opened up about 0.3 per cent and held onto those gains through the morning.

Metals and minerals was the best-performing sector on the market at noon, rising 1.35 per cent, according to IRESS data.

The materials sector - a big component of the local bourse - was up 1.16 per cent while gold stocks were up 0.99 per cent.

BHP Billiton was 36 cents higher at $33.57, while Rio Tinto had risen 74.5 cents to $57.455.

Wall Street closed firmer as US markets cheered upbeat housing data and expressed optimism legislators would reach an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff.

Making news, the minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia's Melbourne Cup day board meeting suggested the central bank was keeping the door open for potential further interest rate cuts.

"Members considered that further easing may be appropriate in the period ahead," the RBA minutes said.

In the minutes, the RBA said improved conditions in the global economy and hints of higher inflation had prompted it to keep the cash rate unchanged at 3.25 per cent in November.

The spot price of gold in Sydney was $US1733.10 per fine ounce, up $US10.41 from yesterday's local close of $US1722.69 per ounce.

National turnover was 603.8 million securities worth $1.3 billion, with 430 stocks trading up, 323 down and 303 unchanged.